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Trump sees approval dip ahead of Mueller report

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Trump vetoes resolution calling on US to pull support of Saudi-led Yemen war

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On the roster: Trump sees approval dip ahead of Mueller report – Time Out: *Hits snooze button* – Obama alumni put support behind Buttigieg – Barr issues order to deny asylum seekers bail – Youuu might be a redneck

TRUMP SEES APPROVAL DIP AHEAD OF MUELLER REPORT  
Monmouth University: “President Donald Trump’s job rating has taken a slight dip as the country awaits the release of the Mueller report according to the latest Monmouth University Poll. Most Americans want Congress to see an unredacted copy of the report, but not pursue the investigation any further. The poll also finds that public opinion remains negative on the 2017 tax reform plan – a key part of Trump’s legislative legacy. The president’s unconventional style also continues to get more negative than positive reviews. Trump’s overall job rating stands at 40% approve and 54% disapprove. This result stands at the lower end of his typical job rating in Monmouth’s polling. … ‘The president’s job rating doesn’t see huge swings, so we tend to focus on small movements. The current reading comes at the end of tax return season and while official Washington eagerly awaits the Mueller report. Neither subject is particularly good for Trump,’ said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.”

His legal team is already preparing a counter-report – Fox News: “President Trump’s legal team is preparing to issue a rebuttal to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Thursday, to refute any allegations of obstruction against the president, Fox News has learned. A source close to Trump’s legal team told Fox News on Wednesday that the president’s lawyers have been working on a counter-report in anticipation of any obstruction of justice claims in the report, which is slated to be released to the public on Thursday. … Trump’s top lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said Tuesday that a counter-report is in the works, and that the team is putting the finishing touches on it. Giuliani said it would be dozens of pages long, but did not detail what the counter-report would focus on. Giuliani said that the report would be released hours after Mueller’s report is made available to the public.”

Dems could subpoena for full report as early as Friday – WaPo: “The House Judiciary Committee is expected to subpoena the Justice Department for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s complete report as soon as Friday, according to a spokesman, as Democrats prepare to fight the Trump administration for access to the attorney general’s anticipated redactions. Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has refrained from issuing subpoenas for the report and the testimony of individuals questioned during Mueller’s investigation — including former White House counsel Donald McGahn and former White House communications director Hope Hicks — until Attorney General William P. Barr releases the report Thursday. But the committee’s Democrats have already made clear that the redacted document Barr intends to release will lack the transparency that lawmakers have demanded and the details that they are prepared to go to court to obtain.”

THE RULEBOOK: WHO’S GOT THE POWER?
“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 47

TIME OUT: *HITS SNOOZE BUTTON*
Atlantic: “For more than a century, discussions of dreams have tended to revolve around the interpretation of our dreams’ contents. … Various sleep studies have found that approximately 30 percent of the time, participants wake up with the sensation that they have been dreaming about something, yet when they are asked to describe the experience, they draw a complete blank. This is a distinct experience from waking up and have no sense of having been dreaming at all… Sleep researchers refer to that first vague sensation as a ‘white dream’—and its true nature is a scientific mystery. … Sometimes, they are explained as a case of simply forgetting what was being dreamed. But some researchers now believe that something much stranger is going on. Rather than reflecting a memory deficit, white dreams might represent a boundary between sleep states, consisting of a basic form of consciousness without detailed sensual content.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 42.6 percent
Average disapproval: 51.8 percent
Net Score: -9.2 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.2 points 
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; Gallup: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve – 52% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 50% disapprove.]

OBAMA ALUMNI PUT SUPPORT BEHIND BUTTIGIEG
U.S. News and World:Pete Buttigieg‘s blossoming presidential campaign is earning early financial assistance from key members of former President Barack Obama‘s administration. Former national security adviser Susan Rice, deputy senior adviser Stephanie Cutter, press secretary Jay Carney, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy all donated to Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign during the first quarter of the year, according to new documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, raised more than $7 million since forming an exploratory committee in January, placing him in the top tier of candidates for fundraising prowess. He reported having $6.4 million on hand to spend. But the donations from the Obama alumni are notable given that Buttigieg is drawing some comparisons to the last Democratic president who ran an underdog campaign with a unique last name.”

Beto defends charity donations by sacrifices through public service – Dallas Morning News:Beto O’Rourke defended his meager rate of charitable giving on Tuesday night, saying that he doesn’t report all of his donations to the IRS and in any case, he contributes in other ways through his work in politics. ‘I’ve served in public office since 2005. … There are ways that I do this that are measurable. And there are ways that I do this that are immeasurable,’ he said. … [Beto and his wife Amy in 2017] paid $81,019 in federal income tax that year and donated $1,166 to charity — a giving rate of just 0.3%, which is well below the national average. … Stumping at the University of Virginia on Tuesday night, O’Rourke was asked about his charitable giving by Maura Nakahata… ‘There are charities that we’ve donated to that we’ve recorded and itemized, others that we’ve donated to that we have not,’ O’Rourke said. ‘I’ll tell you, I’m doing everything I can right now, spending this time with you, not with our kiddos, not back home in El Paso, because I want to sacrifice everything to make sure that we meet this moment of truth with everything we’ve got.’”

Booker pitches new tax credit plan – AP: “Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker on Monday proposed a significant expansion of the earned income tax credit that he said would lower the annual tax bill for almost half of American taxpayers. The senator from New Jersey, who recently launched a national tour aimed at boosting his 2020 presidential bid, touted the plan during a campaign event in Iowa as creating a tax code ‘that reflects our values.’ His announcement came on the date that most Americans’ taxes are due to the IRS. ‘Why should somebody who works for a hedge fund in New York City, who makes a million dollars a year, pay less in taxes than that schoolteacher?’ he asked the audience at his Sioux City event. Booker would pay for his expanded tax credit by taxing capital gains income at the same rate as other income. His campaign, citing the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, projects the policy would benefit 154 million Americans. Booker also suggested his tax policy would boost the economy.”

Biden to speak at workers strike rally Thursday – CBS News: “Former Vice President Joe Biden will speak at a rally Thursday to support striking employees of Stop & Shop near Boston, Massachusetts, the union announced Tuesday. Thousands of Stop & Shop employees at 240 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island went on strike last week over what they say is an unfair contract proposal. Biden tweeted the day after the strike began that the supermarket’s plan to cut employee wages and benefits ‘is wrong.’ Thursday’s rally will be held at the location in Dorchester, a working-class neighborhood in Boston. 2020 Democratic hopeful and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, visited the Somerville, Massachusetts, store Friday to drop off donuts and cheer on the workers, CBS Boston reports.”

Seth Moulton spotted taping 2020 announcement video – Axios: “Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) was spotted in his hometown of Marblehead, Mass., taping for a presidential announcement that’s expected within a week, according to a source close to Moulton. The big picture: Moulton’s key issues will be foreign policy, national security and defense. Moulton was also spotted taping recently in Vegas, where he held three meetings with veterans. Moulton, 40, ran on ‘bringing a new generation of leadership to Washington.’ The congressman joined the Marines after graduating from Harvard, and led an infantry platoon in Iraq. His bio says: ‘He served four tours in a war that he didn’t agree with.’ Matt Corridoni, a Moulton aide, tells [Axios’ Mike Allen]: ‘Seth has said he’s seriously thinking about running and will announce his decision by the end of the month.’”

BARR ISSUES ORDER TO DENY ASYLUM SEEKERS BAIL
NYT: “The Trump administration on Tuesday took another significant step to discourage migrants from seeking asylum, issuing an order that could keep thousands of them in jail indefinitely while they wait for a resolution of their asylum requests. The order issued by Attorney General William P. Barr was an effort to deliver on President Trump’s promise to end the ‘catch and release’ of migrants crossing the border in hopes of escaping persecution in their home countries. The order — which directs immigration judges to deny some migrants a chance to post bail — will not go into effect for 90 days. It is all but certain to be challenged in federal court, but immigrant rights lawyers said it could undermine the basic rights of people seeking safety in the United States. … Mr. Barr’s order is the latest effort by the Trump administration to reduce the number of immigrants who are able to seek protection from violence, poverty and gangs by asking for legal status in the United States.”

Jonah Goldberg: Trump and ‘owning the libs’ – National Review: “President Trump is looking into giving a free trip to San Francisco, New Orleans, or other great American cities to tens of thousands of refugees from Central America. All so he can own the libs. ‘Owning the libs’ is one of those phrases to have emerged over the past few years that vacillates between earnestness and irony. For people who use it earnestly, it means to do something, usually symbolic and petty… The ironic form of the phrase is to engage in unwitting self-sabotage while making a political point. … But no lib-owning tweet can hold a candle to Trump’s announcement over the weekend that he is considering busing thousands of refugees to ‘sanctuary cities.’ … Stemming illegal (and sometimes legal) immigration is the president’s signature issue. Moving the thousands of refugees currently in detention to sanctuary cities is literally achieving the opposite of his goal.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
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Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke starts new job at a Nevada mining companyHuffPo

AUDIBLE: PRAISE FOR THE TURTLE
“Whatever your politics or ideological inclinations may be, you and your family have been the beneficiaries of his experienced leadership in a challenging moment in our country’s history.” – Former Speaker of the House John Boehner writing about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Time magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People of 2019.

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YOUUU MIGHT BE A REDNECK
UPI: “The World Grits Festival in South Carolina featured an eating contest for the traditional breakfast food in addition to a ‘Rolling in the Grits’ contest. The festival, held in St. George, featured Tom McCoskey capturing his seventh consecutive title in the grits eating contest, besting competitors including his own sister. ‘She’s got a few second place trophies,’ McCoskey told the Post & Courier newspaper after the contest. ‘I don’t know what those are like.’ Organizers said the biggest draw at the festival is the Rolling in the Grits contest, which features competitors taking turns rolling in an inflatable pool filled with instant grits in an attempt to saturate their clothes. The record for the contest is gathering 66 pounds of grits, committee member Cassandra Francis said. ‘They want to see people rolling in the grits,’ she said of the festival’s visitors. ‘It’s something you don’t see anywhere else.’”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Had the [Confederate] flag not existed or not been on the grounds of the [S.C] Capitol, this massacre would have happened in any case. But it’s the standard liberal impulse: ‘Something happened really bad, so there’s gotta be a problem, and there has to be a solution. We must do something,’ even if the ‘something’ is entirely irrelevant.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) speaking on “Special Report with Bret Baier” on June 21, 2015. 

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Politics

Ocasio-Cortez-aligned group attacks Biden, says he’s ‘out-of-touch’ with Democratic Party

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Joe Biden announces 2020 presidential bid: 3 things to know about the former vice president

A progressive political group that boosted New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s bid for Congress last year vowed to oppose former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, blasting him as part of the “old guard” and accusing him of standing in opposition to the “center of energy” in the Democratic Party.

JOE BIDEN OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES 2020 PRESIDENTIAL BID

“While we’re going to support the Democratic nominee, we can’t let a so-called ‘centrist’ like Joe Biden divide the Democratic Party and turn it into the party of ‘No, we can’t,’” the group Justice Democrats said Thursday.

Biden announced his candidacy for president Thursday. He enters a crowded field of Democratic contenders aiming to unseat President Trump — nearly 32 years after he announced his first campaign for president. The campaign is Biden’s third bid for the White House, having also unsuccessfully run in 1988 and 2008.

“The old guard of the Democratic Party failed to stop Trump, and they can’t be counted on to lead the fight against his divide-and-conquer politics today,” Justice Democrats said. “The party needs new leadership with a bold vision capable of energizing voters in the Democratic base who stayed home in 2016.”

The group added: “Joe Biden stands in near complete opposition to where the center of energy is in the Democratic Party today.”

BIDEN’S SENATE RECORDS HELD BY HIS ALMA MATER WON’T BE RELEASED UNTIL LATE 2019, POSSIBLY EVEN LATER

“Democrats are increasingly uniting around progressive populist policies like ‘Medicare-for-All,’ a Green New Deal, free college, rejecting corporate money, ending mass incarceration and deportation. We don’t need someone who voted for the Iraq War, for mass incarceration, and for the Bankruptcy Reform Act while voting against gay marriage, reproductive rights, and school desegregation,” Justice Democrats said.

Others, though, took issue with the group’s claim about the energy in the party.

“It’s probably worth noting that while this group, Justice Democrats, calls Biden ‘out-of-touch’ with the ‘center of energy’ in the Democratic Party, only 26 of the 79 candidates it endorsed last year won their primaries, and only 7 of those went on to win the general election,” said Nate Silver, the editor of FiveThirtyEight.

According to its website, Justice Democrats says its mission is “to elect a new type of Democratic majority in Congress, one which will create a thriving economy and democracy that works for the people, not big money interests.”

The attacks could foreshadow the looming clash between the progressive and establishment wings of the party: Biden, along with independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — who enjoys the support of Democratic Socialists in the party — have consistently topped the polls in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Fox News’ Lillian LeCroy and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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Cory Booker’s tax returns shows income from lucrative speaking gigs, royalties

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Cory Booker's tax returns shows income from lucrative speaking gigs, royalties

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker’s tax returns show most of his wealth stems from lucrative speaking engagements and royalties.

Booker, the 2020 candidate who has yet to make a splash in the crowded Democratic field, released 10 years of tax returns on Wednesday after numerous other candidates released their records in recent weeks.

WHO ARE THE WEALTHIEST 2020 DEMS? WITH TAX RETURNS IN, THE ANSWER MAY SURPRISE YOU

The New Jersey senator reported income of $152,715 in 2018 for his salary, $22,781 in taxes which amounts to an effective tax rate of 15 percent, significantly lower than Sen. Kamala Harris’ 37 percent or Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 26 percent.

Most of Booker’s wealth comes public speaking fees and royalties, including $2 million in speaking fees between 2009 and 2014, nearly $1 million in royalties from 2015 to 2017 after the release of his book, “United.”

But the lower effective tax rate may have something to with Booker’s sizeable charitable donations. In 2018, he donated $24,000 to charity. In total over the 10-year period, the senator donated nearly $460,000 to various organizations and causes.

BETO O’ROURKE CONFRONTED AT TOWN HALL ABOUT STINGY CHARITABLE DONATIONS

This appears to be significantly more in proportion than his opponents like Sanders or former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who faced questions over his household giving to charity just $1,166 in 2017, or about 0.3 percent of their income that year.

At the same time, more than half of those donations made by Booker came in 2013 amid criticism of his role in the founding of a social media company called Waywire, prompting him to give massive amounts of stock to charities in his city.

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The New York Times revealed that Booker’s wealth at the time – $5 million – consisted mostly of shares in the company.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Former Vice President Biden launches White House bid as Democratic frontrunner

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Former Vice President Biden launches White House bid as Democratic frontrunner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a moderate who has made his appeal to working-class voters who deserted the Democrats in 2016 a key part of his political identity, launched a bid for the White House on Thursday as the party’s instant frontrunner.

Biden announced the third presidential bid of his career by video on YouTube and other social media, drawing a stark contrast between himself and President Donald Trump in a contest he said was a fight for the future of American democracy.

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” he said. “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and let that happen.”

Trump responded in a post on Twitter, slamming Biden’s “intelligence” and vowing to meet him “at the Starting Gate” if the Democrat wins his party’s “nasty” nomination fight.

Biden, 76, had been wrestling for months over whether to run. His candidacy will face numerous questions, including whether he is too old and too centrist for a Democratic Party yearning for fresh faces and increasingly propelled by its more vocal liberal wing.

Biden starts as leader of the pack in opinion polls of a Democratic field of 20 contenders seeking a chance to challenge Trump, the likely Republican nominee, in November 2020.

Critics say his standing in polls is largely a function of name recognition for the former U.S. senator from Delaware, whose more than four decades in public service includes eight years as President Barack Obama’s No. 2 in the White House.

Obama’s spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a statement that Obama has long said selecting Biden to be his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made. The statement fell short of a formal endorsement, but said Obama relied on Biden’s insight, knowledge and judgment through both election campaigns and his entire presidency.

Biden will travel across the country in the coming weeks to detail his plans to rebuild the middle class, kicking off his tour with a visit on Monday to Pittsburgh, his campaign said.

On May 18, he will hold a rally in Philadelphia to “lay out his vision for unifying America with respected leadership on the world stage—and dignified leadership at home,” it said. 

Pennsylvania, not far from Biden’s home state of Delaware, is a key battleground state and former industrial hub that backed Trump in 2016. The Republican president is seeking to capture the state again even as Democrats saw wins there in the 2018 midterm congressional election.

Democratic U.S. Senators Chris Coons of Delaware and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania threw their support behind Biden in statements early on Thursday.

‘THREAT TO NATION’

As speculation about his bid mounted, Biden faced new questions about his propensity for touching and kissing strangers at political events, with several women coming forward to say he had made them feel uncomfortable.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in this still image taken from a video released April 25, 2019. BIDEN CAMPAIGN HANDOUT via REUTERS

Biden struggled in his response to the concerns, at times joking about his behavior. But ultimately, he apologized and said he recognized standards for personal conduct had evolved in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Trump and his allies seized on the flap, attempting to weaken the incumbent president’s likely top rival before Biden entered the race.

Even so, Biden was determined to push forward, arguing that his background, experience and resume best positioned him to take on Trump next year.

In his announcement on Thursday, Biden held up the example of the August 2017 attack at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that killed a female counterprotester as a defining moment for the nation.

“It was there … we saw (Ku Klux) Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis come out in the open … bearing the fangs of racism,” Biden said, criticizing Trump’s remarks at the time that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

There was no moral equivalence between racists and those fighting such inequality, he said.

“In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime,” said Biden.

CENTRIST CANDIDATE

Biden’s candidacy will offer early hints about whether Democrats are more interested in finding a centrist who can win over the white working-class voters who backed Trump in 2016, or someone who can fire up the party’s diverse progressive wing, such as Senators Kamala Harris of California, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, or Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

His long history in the Senate, where Biden was a leading voice on foreign policy, will give liberal activists plenty to criticize. As Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, he angered women’s rights activists with his handling of sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas during the justice’s 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

He also has been censured over his ties to the financial industry, which is prominent in his home state of Delaware, and for his authorship of a 1994 crime act that led to increased incarceration rates.

Biden has been one of the party’s more aggressive Trump critics. Last year, he said he would have “beat the hell” out of Trump if the two were in high school because of the way the president has talked about women. That prompted Trump to call him “Crazy Joe Biden” and to claim on Twitter that Biden would “go down fast and hard, crying all the way” if they fought.

Biden later lamented the exchange, saying: “I shouldn’t get down in the mosh pit with this guy.”

Known for his verbal gaffes on the campaign trail, Biden failed to gain traction with voters during his previous runs in 1988 and 2008.

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks at a rally with striking Stop & Shop workers in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

He dropped his 1988 bid amid allegations he had plagiarized some of his stump oratory and early academic work. But his experience and strong debate performances in 2008 impressed Obama enough that he tapped Biden as his running mate.

Biden decided against a 2016 presidential bid after a lengthy public period of indecision following the death of his son Beau of brain cancer in May 2015. Beau had urged him to run.

Biden faces similar family considerations this time around as he continues to cope with Beau’s demise, while his other son, Hunter, has gone through a divorce.

Reporting by John Whitesides and James Oliphant; additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Rich McKay and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Jonathan Oatis, Peter Graff and Bernadette Baum

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